News Nosh: April 24, 2018

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday April 24, 2018
Quote of the day:
“It almost felt cathartic to read.”
--Andrew Goldblatt, a junior at Tufts University, said Natalie Portman’s Facebook post, in which she explained her decision not to attend an awards ceremony to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies, was empowering for young liberal Jewish Americans.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
"It's a record in silencing people."
--Habayit Hayehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich's reaction to Twitter's decision to temporarily freeze his account after he posted that soldiers should have shot Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi in the knees for slapping one of them.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • May alert - Next month: A string of explosive events
  • Hamas planning the victory photo // Alex Fishman
  • The new prince - William and Kate share third child with world
  • Israeli research found: Acamol during pregnancy can cause autism, Viagra speeds the recovery from heart surgery
  • The minister, the presenter and the dress: It turns out there was another dispute at the (Independence Day) torch-lighting ceremony
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Rift in Hamas prevents deal on return of bodies of fallen
  • Referendum on the override clause: Israel Hayom found that 17 of the 22 government ministers support the law to bypass the High Court
  • Study: Acamol and Dexamol during pregnancy raises chances of autism and Attention Deficit Disorder
  • The little prince (born to William and Kate)
  • Report: Israel asked Russia - “Don’t provide S-300 missiles to Syria”
  • Tnuva put water instead of milk in the chocolate milk - and left the price the same

News Summary:
The Israeli Chief Justice put breaks on plans to pass a law to limit the High Court’s power, Israel feared from a Russian media report that Russia will supply the Syrian regime with missiles, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of targeting Arab scientists - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Meanwhile, France’s leader Emmanuel Macron flew to the US to convince US President Donald Trump to keep the Iran nuclear deal, saying there would be no ‘’plan B.”

Haaretz+ reported that Chief Justice Esther Chayut said she would only agree to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu if he postponed the Sunday discussion and vote in the Ministerial Legislative Committee of the bill that, if passed, would override the High Court’s invalidation of a law that violated a Basic Law. Maariv reported that as a result of this condition, the committee meeting was postponed. Moreover, Maariv reported that Chayut will demand from Netanyahu that there be a majority of 70 MKs, not 61, to pass the the legislation. However, the far right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party led by Naftali Bennett has made it clear that it will not agree to this and has given the government till May 6th to vote on and pass the bill or the party will boycott coalition votes. Bennett revealed that passing this law was part of his party’s coalition agreement with the Likud and it explicitly stated that law allow bypassing the High Court with only a 61 MK majority. (Israel Hayom Hebrew)

A Russian media report that Russia will soon supply Syria with S-300 air defense systems, for free, has Israel concerned that the balance of power will change in the north. Another report said that Israel asked Russia not to deliver the S-300 systems to Syria. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country has not yet decided whether to deliver or not, but that Western military strikes on Syria have removed any moral obligation Russia had to withhold the system from its ally. Israeli Channel 1 reported that an American general responsible for Iran and Syria secretly visited Israel. Gen. Joseph Votel arrived in Israel for a few days and met with senior members of the defense establishment, including the chief of staff, the head of the NSC and others. (Maariv) Continuing the exchange of threats between Israel and Iran and Syria, Energy minister Yuval Steinitz said Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would jeopardize his regime and entire existence by allowing anyone, including Iran, to declare war on Israel from Syrian territory. Meanwhile, a Syrian mortar shell hit near the Israeli border in the Golan Heights the IDF fired in response.

Malaysia released images of the two suspects in the assassination of Hamas engineer, Fadi Al-Batsh. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said al-Batsh was likely killed in an internal Palestinian dispute. However, Yedioth/Ynet’s Elior Levy found an article by al-Batsh showing he studied drones, suggesting maybe Israel assassinated him to prevent Hamas from getting drone technology. At a rally in Beirut, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of assassinating Iranian, Tunisian, Lebanese and Palestinian scientists in an ”organized campaign" and called the assassination of al-Batsh a 'Zionist crime.’ (also Israel Hayom).
Quick Hits:
  • Gaza Protests: Two Palestinians Wounded During Demonstrations Succumb to Wounds - Abdallah Shamali, 20, and Tahrir Sayid Wahaba, 18, who was shot in the head, were killed during protests on Friday and died from their wounds overnight, bringing overall death toll from weeks of protest to 39. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israel questions soldiers over Gaza deaths as some seek legal counsel - IDF examining cases in which soldiers are suspected of violating rules of engagement, as well as specific cases such as deaths of Palestinian photojournalist Yaser Murtaja and teenager Mohammed Ayoub. (Haaretz+)
  • France sharply condemns Israel: We oppose indiscriminate firing on Gaza protesters - Gaza authorities say 39 Palestinians have been killed in weekly protests. 'We remind them of the duty to protect civilians, particularly minors, and of the Palestinians’ right to demonstrate peacefully,' says statement from lysée. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu? The real reason Natalie Portman’s cancellation is revealed - According to a report by journalist Udi Segal on ’The News’, the original email of the Israeli-American actress does not mention the prime minister, but says: “Recently, we have been following the news from Gaza with growing concern and we feel that it is inappropriate to hold a ceremony given the government's actions and the recent escalation," said the original letter sent at the beginning of last month. (Maariv)
  • *Young Jewish Resistance in America Hails Portman’s Stance as Turning Point on Israel - College students and activists tell Haaretz the American-Israeli actor has emboldened them to speak out, after she opted not to attend an awards ceremony in her honor due to Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies. (Haaretz+)
  • ***Twitter Temporarily Suspended Israeli Lawmaker Who Said Palestinian Teen Should've Been Shot - Bezalel Smotrich called it a ‘new record of silencing people’ and said he will appeal social media company's demand that he delete the tweet about Ahed Tamimi, who was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Violent gang attack on driver in Negev caught on camera - 29-year-old Bedouin cuffed on suspicion of taking part in assault in which masked and unmasked men appear to attack passengers involved in a crash with metal bars in Be'er Sheva. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • (Arab) resident of the south: "Masked men attacked me and I am in a wheelchair, the police do nothing" - Amin, 41, a resident of the Negev, told Maariv: "The violence in the (Arab) sector is not new, but recently there has been a step up in boldness and they are not afraid of anyone because the police do not do their job when it comes to Bedouin.” (Maariv)
  • Daughter of (Arab) MK Esawi Freij: “I was humiliated at Ben-Gurion Airport” - Amna Freij, a successful accountant, wanted to fly with her friend Lina Jarais to Berlin. But at the airport, they demanded the young women remove her bra and threatened that if she didn’t they would have their suitcases removed and prevent them from boarding the plane. At that point Amna called her father, who said, “If you want to fly, just suffer it” and the two were forced to be examined naked. Now they are suing the airport, saying the security check was unnecessary and they were unnecessarily humiliated. B-G Airport: “When there is an alert, an examination is required to discover what set it off.” (Yedioth, p. 12)
  • Gov't launches education initiative for minority integration - They will speak to colleagues in ultra-Orthodox, secular and Arab schools, as well as to people in religious and secular settlements. (JPost)
  • Members of Knesset initiate: The responsibility for torch-lighting ceremony will be taken from Culture Minister Regev - MKs from the coalition and the opposition are advancing a move that will transfer the authority from the Symbols and Ceremonies Committee to the Knesset. (Maariv)
  • New poll: Likud weakens, Orly Levy-Abukasis shocks with 8 seats - According to the results of the "News" company poll, the torch-lighting ceremony did not help Netanyahu, who drops to 28 mandates, the Zionist Camp begins to recover with 14, Lapid with 20. Joint List with 12, Habayit Hayehudi with 10, United Torah Judaism gets 7, both Meretz and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party get 6 each and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party gets 5 and Shas gets 4. (Maariv)
  • Jewish leaders reject new bill that would grant Orthodox movement control over conversions in Israel - Jewish Federations of North America says new draft is ‘not a compromise’ and must be revisited, while Reform movement head says bill would give ‘monopoly’ to Orthodox movement. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli army to put up barriers to separate men's and women's barracks - Such obstacles will be opaque enough so that the male and female soldiers can't see each other, 'but not completely opaque,' says military. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel demands Tel-Aviv elementary schools separate boys and girls at sports event - 28 elementary school principals in the city have announced a boycott of the upcoming event. Education Ministry says separation derives from the need to take 'body images of boys and girls at this age' into consideration. (Haaretz+)
  • Justice Minister Shaked vows to help bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel - Justice minister makes first official Africa visit • Ethiopia's Falash Mura community are practicing Jews but are not automatically eligible to make aliyah under Law of Return • Members have been separated from family members living in Israel for years. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Biden to Be Keynote Speaker at Israeli-Palestinian NGO Gala in New York City - The speech will be his first public appearance at an event related to Israel since leaving the White House last January. (Haaretz+)
  • Animated movie depict Jewish people's ties to Israel - In honor of Israel's 70th birthday, Ministry for Foreign Affairs launches PR movie describing events that led to the establishment of Israel, with emphasis on Jewish bonds with the land. (Ynet)
  • Minister recalls swallowing a diamond when she made Aliyah - Marking Israel’s 70th birthday, Immigration Minister Sofa Landver opens up before a 2,000-strong crowd in Moscow about her difficult Aliyah experience, father’s WWII decorations. (Ynet)
  • Egypt's New Internet Law Blocks Sites Over 'National Security Concerns' - One of the sites under fire offers a platform for discussions of sexuality and feminism. (Haaretz+)

WATCH John Oliver has everything you need to know about the Iran deal
The comedian tackles Trump's qualms with the deal, but takes jab at 'Old Pappy Khamenei' for threatening Israel. (Haaretz)
Fog of battle: What brought about the conspiracy of silence behind the battle of Nebi Samuel?
The surprise effect that was lost, the British who collected the corpses for a fee. 70 years since the battle that was supposed to prevent the dismantling of the Palmach, but only encouraged Ben-Gurion to do so. (Dr. Uri Milstein, Maariv)
Palestinian refugees – war by other means (Moshe Arens, Haaretz+) As long as these refugees, who are growing in number day by day, are not resettled in permanent homes, there will be no peace with Israel.
The real story behind Gaza's marches: The Gazans who chose to stay home (Moran Stern, Ynet) The ordinary Palestinian is not only politically weary, he is also increasingly alienated from his leadership and political institutions as venues to propel a meaningful change in his life. Under such circumstances, responding to Hamas’ calls to protest and risk one’s lives by marching towards the border makes little sense.
The day our Jewish character was taken (Assaf Malach, Israel Hayom) President Rivlin's 2015 "tribe speech," in which he said that only democracy binds us together, was the defining moment for the ultra-liberal camp in its effort to undo Israel's Jewish underpinnings.
The Saga about Police Commissioner Alsheikh: The PR spins are trying to obscure the fact that he was fired (Ron Kaufman, Maariv) Alsheikh, with or without a fourth year in office, will be remembered as a police commissioner who led the investigation into a prime minister and brought him to court, so all the talk and spin about "extension of his term“ is merely meant to blur the simple fact that this is a dismissal. There is no other meaning. And those who seek to hide behind words, if and when it is decided to end the term of the commissioner following three years, is a trickster or a liar - and it is possible that the both answers are correct.
IfNotNow Is So Noisy About the Occupation. Why Is It So Quiet About Israel's Right to Exist? (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) IfNotNow rightly calls for Jews to talk honestly about the occupation. So why won't they talk honestly about whether a Jewish state should even exist?
The 70th anniversary celebrations could have been an opportunity to rebuild relations with American Jewry, but the leadership thought otherwise (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) The American community enthusiastically marked Independence Day as a sign of its basic and unshakable respect for the country. However, the Israeli leadership did not take advantage of the dates as a lever for demonstrating respect for the Diaspora.
Natalie, it's not about the refugees (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) The carefully cultivated Portman brand calculated that it was better to boycott than to participate in the Genesis Prize ceremony. But she is in no position to preach.
What’s the Deal, Natalie Portman? (Nili Landesman, Haaretz+) Don’t you know that 'all of Israel are brothers' is the most coercive bear-hug there is?
An open letter to Natalie Portman (Alexander J. Apfel, Yedioth/Ynet) Your decision to boycott an apolitical event for fear of being seen to endorse Netanyahu was illogical and contradictory. You have let Israel down, along with the family and friends you claim to cherish, by demonizing their defenders.
Natalie Portman and BDS are not one and the same (Benjamin Tovias, Yedioth/Ynet) The Israeli Right has chosen not to listen to the Israel-born actress’ incredibly reasoned statement: I’m against a boycott, but I won’t be your leadership’s poster girl. Portman represents the young, liberal and educated generation of US Jews, who love Israel but are gradually drifting away from the state.
Why I was afraid to give my accountant a receipt for a donation to the New Israel Fund (Lior Dayan, Maariv) I believe that in our 70th year we are closer than ever to the collapse of the State of Israel as we know it. An internal collapse, which will come from the split and the terrible polarization between us.
Russia's signal to Israel: Don’t overdo it against Assad and Iran (Yossi Melman, Maariv) Russian support will severely limit Israel's freedom of action in Syria, and then Israel will face the dilemma: Should the missile batteries be attacked? Such an action could bring Israel into almost direct confrontation with the Kremlin.

Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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